The magic of words, binding formulas of the Immortals, and a higher notion for sacred duty in Zoroastrianism


If art can be called the wondrous re-creation and a new formulation of reality through the lens of human experience, then the magic of words is the greatest achievement of art. Each word is a spell of vision and sound, a vital expression of the soul, a revelation of subconscious forces behind the sounds, in which the transformation of reality into melodious energy takes place.

Words stir our deepest feelings, elevate our innermost being, and vibrate with the melody of the intent/spirit behind them. The magic of words/poetry is due to their rhythm and subconscious intent.

Through the vision of the seer/poet, the sounds and words become the vehicle of the primeval mind energies- a creative tool of the spirit, and life becomes a rhythmical dance of artful imagery and creativity.

Words cast their spirit/energy through their vibrations into reality, thereby reshaping the world and the state of things, as they exist. This give Words magical properties, BINDING us to their mysterious force.

Modern humanity is simply unable to imagine how profoundly the magic of words was experienced in ancient civilizations, and how enormous is the subconscious influence of words on the entire life even today.

Avestan ûrvátá is the term for “WORD or binding formula” in the poetic gathas. Ûrvátá is a cognate with Lithuanian vardas, Latvian vārds, Gothic waúrd, German wort, all are rooted in reconstructed Indo European *wer– “word, to bind.” Russian vru “pagan formula/lie,” and Vedic vrata “law, binding rule” are also cognates, and come from the same root. (See Didier Calin)

Hanns-Peter Schmidt has argued at great length that úrvátá means “vow” in the sense of “a sort of promissory oath,” or “a commandment and binding formula implying an obligation.” The common gathic word for “friend” ûrvatha, refers in fact to the “bond of friendship” and “vow/oath to fulfill an obligation.”

Ûrvátá is “the power of the WORDs to command, oblige, to do something, to bind.” Words/formulas determine the order of all things and beings in the world, and imply the idea of man’s obligation to adhere to the wondrous example of the gods. Ûrvátá properly belongs to the sphere of the gods.

The fourth and the longest hymn in the poetic gathas is that of úrvátá or “These your binding formulas/words.” Here úrvátá or WORDS are formulas of knowledge, spells of vision and wisdom, rules that establish the ordered cosmos.

According to the ancient commentaries the 22 stanzas of úrvátá are about “discerning wisdom and judiciousness” (dádistán.) So that when they pray/recite the úrvátá by line and stanza, prudence and good judgment are manifested in the supplicant and the jurist. The 22 stanzas are described in another Avestan passage of Hadôkht Nask as: Anaômö man.aηhæ daiia vispái: kva, kva parö “all that mind has devised beyond the infinity.”

The ancient commentaries connect the 22 stanza of úrvátá or “These your binding formulas/words,” with the 22 stanzas of the “wondrous dominion of baga (Russian bog “god”) or Yasna 51 of the gathas.

The “established laws” dátá and the “binding formulas” úrvátá, imply a mutual relationship between the Mazda-worshiper and the divine world (See Yasna 51.14.) A reciprocal relationship which is binding between the world of the god-beings and humans, where both men and the Immortals have their assigned obligation/duties to do, and until those sacred duties are fulfilled, they remain obligated to the other.

In conclusion, I shall add that the concept of úrvátá “binding formula/word” in the gathas implies: that the noble fellowship of Mazda-worshippers has never been about a delusional sense of entitlement and privileges, but has always consisted in a higher notion of sacred DUTY toward the world of the gods, higher virtues and discerning wisdom.


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3 Responses to The magic of words, binding formulas of the Immortals, and a higher notion for sacred duty in Zoroastrianism

  1. Zaneta Garratt says:

    very interesting, beautiful words of wisdom can inspire and heal the soul

  2. Afterthought says:

    Neuro linguistic programming.

    Mantras can reprogram the brain, for good or ill.


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